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It's a Big Bust Boom

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Attention men! Get up from your computers right now and high-five or (depending on germ tolerance) fist bump the guy in the next cubicle. Major congratulations are in order to you all. Your wildest dreams have finally become reality. It’s not that the water supply has been replaced with Budweiser (BUD) or Cougar Town has been canceled. No, this is better: our planet is officially under attack by a new race of supervixens.

According to a new
report, women’s breast sizes have tripled over the last 50 years. Tripled! The average 1960’s woman wore a 10B and today she’s busting out in a 14C. Russ Meyer’s films weren’t sexploitation; they were prophecy!

The report, conducted in Australia, squares  (<-- Successfully avoided pun here!) with findings on breast size across the globe. UK department store Selfridges of London has seen a 50% increase in sales of D to G cup bras within the past five years. Breast-size data compiled 10 years ago in The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior indicated that the average Asian woman grew from a 34A in the 1980s to a 34C the following decade.

Not to be outdone, American women’s cups have also runneth over (<-- Less successful here.) with the average bust size increasing from 34B to 36C, at least according to manufacturers. And with an estimated 70-85% of women wearing the wrong bra size, lingerie retailers must be bursting at the seams with customers in search of fittings and a new properly accoutred lingerie wardrobe. But which American lingerie manufacturers are keeping ‘abreast’ of consumer demand?

Wacoal (WACLY), a leader in designer intimate apparel, reported having a three-size spike in the company’s top-selling bra size -- from 36C in 2006 to a bra-busting 36DD last year. Although Wacoal claimed it was considering adding an H cup to its full figure selection, only four bras tip the size-o-meter at a G.

Oddly enough, Hanesbrands (HBI) appears to be a bit behind the curve in terms of plus-sized options. Of all the bra brands sold by Hanes, only one Playtex and one Bali come in a size G with the majority of the plus-sized bras maxing out at a DDD. According to a Hanesbrands customer service representative, the company is trialling the two G styles which, as of now, aren’t faring well. The company believes 30A through 42C represents 58% of the bra sizes sold in the U.S. and, accordingly, launched its new Smart Sizes system which replaces traditional alpha-numeric bra sizes with ‘extra small through extra large’ size designations.

Bare Necessities, an online retailer of brand name intimate apparel that claimed 34DD was its number 10 top-selling size in 2008 (as compared to #17 in 2002), boasts a staggering 359 bras in that size. A search for 36G returned 169 styles. The retailer offers bras up to a size N! N? This place definitely has the well-endowed among us covered.

Even intimates retailers we’ve tended to associate with fine, delicate lingerie in sizes teensy through weensy are now catering to the full-figured set. Victoria’s Secret, which claims to be North America's #1 specialty retailer of women's intimate apparel with net sales topping $5 million, offers four bras in size DDD. A Frederick’s of Hollywood (FOH) retail report indicating the average-size bra purchased from its store increased from 34B to 36C since 1996, inspired a line of plus-sized bras that also run as big as DDD. Even Elle Macpherson Intimates got into the full-busted game, launching a D-G Cup Collection last year.

Experts can’t seem to agree about what exactly is responsible for this boobonic plague. Heh. Perhaps weight gain and the increase in breast augmentation surgery are to blame (or thank). Maybe it’s literally in the water -- given our hormone-heavy diets. Maybe it’s an insidious industry-wide conspiracy getting women to shell out more money for bras in order to offset a decline in retail sales.

Or maybe God is a man.

For more on this Big Bust Boom, click here to see our slideshow of The 10 Most Popular Cup Sizes.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.